Happy Birthday, Soul Man

Tales from death row: Justice for Rodney Reed by Caitlin Adams

"Christmas" Birthday Syndrome is not cited in the DSM IV (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), but experienced by all the children I knew growing up who had a birthday on or around Christmas.  

Rodney's birthday is December 22 and at our last visit, he confirmed that he too suffered from "CBS"; birthdays that came and went with no big fuss, and no special outing or celebration  - because everyone was so busy preparing for or cleaning up after Christmas.  Bah Humbug!   

However, one year, the Grinch missed stealing Rodney's birthday.  It was his 10th birthday - the year of the midnight metallic blue, banana seat bicycle, that his Gramma bought for him his birthday.  The bike every kid in the neighborhood envied and wanted to ride, even his brothers!  

Rodney was in story-telling mode at this point and me, well, I was all ears!  He segued swiftly and smoothly into a story of an early life lesson - where chicken sandwiches come from.  His Gramma sent him out to the chicken coop to catch a chicken. He was unsuccessful, managing only to get the whole coop in a frenzy.  

His Gramma came out, promptly caught and killed a chicken and, much to Rodney's dismay, boiled the chicken.  Lo and behold, she wanted Rodney to do the "defeathering" honors!  Needless to say, it was a long time before Rodney wanted a chicken sandwich again!  

And right on the heels of his chicken tale, he spoke of how his insatiable curiosity led to a terrifying face to face encounter with a hog in the smokehouse.  

We don't usually talk much about his birthdays on death row.  When I asked the question, "What do you want for your birthday?", his answer was "To be free." That startled me back to the harsh reality of the glass partition, the isolation, the confinement, and another year of unjust imprisonment.  My hope, my wish, my prayer, for you dear Rodney is a "free" birthday in 2012.  Happy Birthday, Soul Man Roscoe!


Caitlin Adams is a resident of Bastrop, Texas.  After meeting the family of Texas death row prisoner Rodney Reed outside of their home earlier this year, she began writing with Rodney.  She has developed a friendship with Rodney's mother Sandra and his family in Bastrop, as well as making regular trips to death row to visit Rodney. 

After learning about the facts of Rodney's case, Caitlin has become an advocate for Rodney Reed – here we present Caitlin's story about her journey for justice.